Here are my LIVE psychological commentary on the Presidential Debates!
My usual disclaimers: I am responding to my professional societal responsibility in speaking about a public figure. If you are thinking of “the Goldwater rule,” the PURPOSE of the “rule” is to protect public health, not to protect a public figure AGAINST public health.
I have not examined Donald Trump personally, but I do not need to. Here is why:

1. I will not comment on anything that requires a personal exam.
2. I have more than enough information for the patterns I will be discussing (including reports by close associates who have spoken under sworn testimony; personal interviews with several who know him very well; and direct observations in real time).
3. Dangerousness is not a diagnosis but an evaluation that can be done when there is ENOUGH information, not ALL information (including medical records, drug tests, etc.).
4. I certify that I am keeping with ALL ethical guidelines, to the full extent of my professional training and moral reasoning.
First topic: Supreme Court appointment. Donald Trump’s reasoning: “winner takes all.” This appeals to the authoritarian mindset and feel reassuring to his followers.
Joe Biden: “people should have a say in the appointment.” He is outlining all the things people will lose: medical care, women’s right to choose, etc. Strong, but not the strongest pushback.
DT brings up “socialist”, and JB is continuing with reasoning. JB should now be saying: “I know what you are doing. You are trying to label me, but that is wrong. Listen to me, and stick to the issues, not labels.” He is not doing this right away.
DT is highly stressed and fearful, given how early he is interrupting and not allowing the discussion to go through smoothly. It is important to gauge where he is through his responses.
Good! JB called him out as a liar. “Everybody knows he lies.”
JB: “He has no plan for healthcare…. He does not know what he is talking about.” Pretty good! One thing is missing is laying down the limits.
Rule 1 with a bully: set limits simply and early. Keep returning to the rule.
“No labels, no name calling, please. Could you get through the night without lying? 10 minutes? No lying. I am going to call out each lie.”
JB re: “You don’t panic. He panicked.” Good pinpointing. “I laid out all that we should be doing,” firmly: “to save lives.” Appropriately firm.
DT is laying down impressions. JB is pushing back with facts with the right emotional cadence, which is important.
DT: “people would make it political than save lives.” JB: “you spoke about injecting disinfectant. The vaccine will not be available for several months.” Good deflection.
JB: “he still hasn’t acknowledged that he lied about the seriousness of the virus.” DT grabs on the word “smart” and is diverging from the discussion. This is when JB should have said: “stay with the topic, please.”
“Let me shut you down for a second” is DT’s response to the request that he not shut others down. This is how smooth his “instincts” are, like a mentally impaired person.
There are two layers of “processes” happening. The rational and the “instinctual” (or “the primitive brain”). We need to be aware of both, since DT will be manipulating the latter, and this is how he maintains his hold of his followers—and, to a degree—his opponents.
DT just seized control of the narrative now, but attaching all the deaths on China, conveying a pretense of sympathy, and emotionally reshaped all that JB has done. This is how allowing him to speak at any length works to his favor.
JB is making the leap now that the audience is all rational. He needs to slow down and state one fact at a time: why is it important to control the pandemic to recover the economy?
DT: to the question of his paying $750 in taxes, he says, “I paid millions of dollars.” The moderator is asking: “will you tell us…?” No, he should ask: “please address just the $750, please.”
JB: “You are the worst president in history,” inviting attacks back. He needs to be more specific, not stoop to the level of DT. If he stoops, he will lose. Firmness with a grounding in reality—specific facts—is what he needs.
They are about even right now.
JB is short on facts about economic recovery. There are better facts he could make use of: “economy requires investment; you only threatened the Feds. and benefited billionaires, not so much workers.”
If JB had set the rules early, he would be able to repeat them by now. He is bringing them ad hoc, but the frame is not set up to the degree necessary.
Here is the order of immediate force:
1.Pathological drive
2.Rationality and reality (truth)
3.“Tactics” to meet pathology on its ground
It is a careful line to tread to stay with 2 and not 3.
Here is the order of long-term power:
1. Rationality and reality (truth)
2. Pathological drive
3. “Tactics” to meet pathology on its ground
JB is right to bring up statistics about African-American deaths under Covid. Very forceful.
DT came prepared: he is now calling out JB’s crime bill that framed them as “super-predators.” DT is now doing to JB what JB should be doing to DT. Alas.
JB is calling out DT’s “violent response.” This is a good response.
He should dwell more on this topic: inciting violence, increasing violence, and causing social unrest and make him own this.
DT: “are you in favor of law & order?” JB: “I am in favor of law.” He should keep going! Own these terms!
Sigh…. If you watch what DT is doing, he is demonstrating what should be done with him. Reversing and owning. JB is staying too closely to “progressive” language now rather than reversing and owning the other side’s language.
JB: “he’s trying to rile everyone up.” This is good! He needs to keep coming up with specific instances. Return him back to reality, not stay at his level of impressions.
DT: “There has never been any administration that has done more….” This is where JB should say: “Just because you say it does not make it true,” and repeat not just facts but the rules: “no lies, I asked, no lies.”
JB is bringing up good facts (“your bringing up ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’”), but the frame is missing. The moderator is trying, but the setup gives them equal footing, which is always disadvantageous.
The moderator has asked: “do you believe in human-generated climate change?” DT: “to a certain extent, to a certain extent, but….” Ingenious how he wiggles his way out. He is doing this with each question.
JB: “he is absolutely wrong.” This is good, but not enough. We need to say: “this is what he is doing. I told you he would be doing this. He needs to stop doing this”—this is where the “debate” needs to dwell.
It is important to set limits from the start; to contain him psychologically. Call him out, and repeat. There is a difference between doing this ad hoc, as now, and applying the methods systematically.
Insisting on rationality with him is irrational. Acknowledging what we are dealing with and responding accordingly is the more rational approach: this is a psychological problem, not a political/policy one.
The moderator has been trying: “stop, stop!” This needs to be followed up with specific observations of his behavior.
“Stop name-calling (‘crooked Hillary’).” “You are being paranoid, sir (regarding a ‘coup’).” “You are bringing up conspiracy theories (‘rigged election’)—can you stop doing that?”
Here are the methods:
Do not stoop to his level, or he will win.
Do not “go high,” or he will take advantage.

Use the method that is appropriate to the problem; psychological issues need to be addressed psychologically.
Be versatile: understand the principles, not just method.
End of debate with question of whether one will honor the election results. Somewhat a letdown.
The takeaway? JB has it in him, but he needs coaching and, above all, a more systematic understanding. DT is still too skilled, and he is bringing out full armamentarium.
It will always be an uphill battle as long as a debate is allowed. He is being enabled to the fullest extent, which makes him appear normal. Good night!
You can follow @BandyXLee1.
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